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HomeHealth articlesgonorrheaGonorrhea - Symptoms | Causes | Diagnoses | Complications | Prevention


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Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that causes pain and other symptoms in the genital tract in both men and women. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Yeshwanth Kumar

Published At July 25, 2019
Reviewed AtApril 1, 2024

What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that can affect both men and women. The bacteria responsible is Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which commonly affects warm and moist parts of the body. The common parts that get infected are the urethra, vagina, anus, eyes, throat, cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes. It can also spread to babies during childbirth from an infected mother. An individual can get infected through unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. People who have multiple sex partners are more at risk of getting infected. Alcoholism and drug abuse encourage people to have unprotected sex, thus making them vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections, including HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). The ways to prevent these infections are by practicing safe sex, sexual abstinence, or avoiding multiple sexual partners (practicing monogamy).

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Gonorrhea?

People generally notice symptoms after two days to two weeks after being exposed. However, some people do not show any symptoms and are called non-symptomatic carriers. Such people tend to spread this infection, as they are not aware that they might be infected. The signs and symptoms in women and men are different.

Symptoms in Women Are as Follows:

  • Watery or white creamy vaginal discharge.

  • Pain or burning sensation on peeing.

  • Increased urge to urinate.

  • Frequent urination.

  • Pain during sex.

  • Sore throat.

  • Intermenstrual bleeding or spotting.

  • Fever.

  • Sharp abdominal pain.

Symptoms in Men Are as Follows:

  • Burning or pain on urination.

  • Increased urge to urinate.

  • Frequent urination.

  • Pus discharge from the penis opening.

  • The opening of the penis might be red and swollen.

  • Testicles might get swollen or tender.

  • Sore throat.

Symptoms in Other Body Parts Are as Follows:

  • Anal itching.

  • Pus discharge from rectum.

  • Blood in stools.

  • Eye pain.

  • Sensitivity to light.

  • Eye discharge.

  • Lymph node enlargement in the neck.

  • Swollen and painful joints (septic arthritis).

  • In babies, gonorrhea usually affects the eyes.

What Are the Risk Factors of Gonorrhea?

The risk factors are as follows:

  • New sex partner.

  • Multiple sexual partners.

  • Having unprotected sex.

  • Previous gonorrhea infection.

  • Young age between the ages of 15 to 24.

  • Drug abuse.

  • History of other sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Sharing sex toys.

  • A weakened immune system due to conditions such as chemotherapy and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can lead to gonorrhea.

What Are the Tests Done to Diagnose Gonorrhea?

After taking a complete medical history, if the doctor suspects gonorrhea, an individual might be asked to perform the following tests to determine the presence of gonorrhea bacteria in the body:

  • Urine Test: The doctor may take the urine sample to check for bacteria.

  • Swab Test From the Affected Part: The doctor might take a swab from the vagina, rectum, or throat to look for the bacteria.

  • Blood Test: The doctor may prescribe a blood test to check for sexually transmitted infections such as human immunodeficiency virus or syphilis.

  • Sample Testing: As gonorrhea increases the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases, the doctor might also suggest an individual undergo tests for infections like chlamydia and HIV. The sample can be tested using a nucleic acid amplification test or a gonorrhea culture.

What Is the Treatment for Gonorrhea?

As it is a bacterial infection, gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics. The treatment options for uncomplicated gonorrhea are:

  • Antibiotics: The doctor might prescribe an injection of Ceftriaxone and oral Azithromycin or Doxycycline. The other antibiotics can be given orally or through injection Gentamicin and oral Azithromycin, in case the patient is allergic to Cephalosporins. Drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are increasing, which makes the treatment more challenging. The antibiotic-resistant variant is treated with a seven-day course of two oral antibiotics, mostly Azithromycin and Doxycycline.

  • Partner Notification and Testing: Even if the partner has no signs or symptoms of gonorrhea, they must undergo the treatment at the same time. Babies born to infected mothers are given antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection. Avoid having sexual intercourse during and for seven days after the treatment.

  • Follow-Up Testing: A doctor may do a follow-up after the treatment to check for infections and sexually transmitted infections.

How One Can Cure Gonorrhea Without Consulting a Doctor?

Gonorrhea cannot be treated without a doctor's consultation. The condition requires proper medical attention and treatment with prescription antibiotics. However, one can try a few home remedies to cure the condition at home. These include:

  • Garlic: Some research studies show the effects of garlic and its products on gonorrhea as it has antibacterial properties that may help fight this bacterial infection. However, the results are not promising for humans suffering from gonorrhea.

  • Goldenseal: This plant is also known to have some antibacterial effects. Research studies show the effects of this plant in treating some bacterial infections, but its effectiveness in treating gonorrhea is not known clearly.

  • Listerine: Oral mouthwash Listerine is also effective against oral gonorrhea according to some studies. It can help treat the condition but not necessarily be used as a treatment option for oral gonorrhea.

What Are the Complications of Gonorrhea?

If left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to complications that are as follows:

  • Spread to the uterus and fallopian tube, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes and infertility in females.

  • Spread and cause inflammation of the epididymis (epididymitis), which can make a man infertile if not treated.

  • Infect the joints and bloodstream resulting in rashes, fever, joint pain, and stiffness.

  • Increase the risk of getting infected with HIV.

  • Resulting in blindness and infection in babies.

How Can Gonorrhea Be Prevented?

An individual needs to follow these tips to reduce the risk of gonorrhea:

  • Abstinence from sex.

  • Use a condom during sex.

  • Change the condom between each sexual act.

  • Get tested for sexually transmitted infections.

  • Avoid having sex with a partner who has genital sores or rashes.

  • Avoid having multiple sexual partners.

  • Regularly get screened for gonorrhea.

  • Avoid unprotected sex.

  • The treatment must be done together for a couple, even if one of them does not show any signs or symptoms. If a person might get reinfected by a partner after the treatment. If the couple is suffering from symptoms of gonorrhea, consult a doctor online immediately.


Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The infection can affect millions of people and can lead to a wide range of complications if left untreated. Some people do not experience symptoms. To eradicate the infection, it is important to complete a full course of antibiotics. If left untreated the infection can lead to infertility and an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. Prevention is the main key to avoiding this bacterial infection. People must adopt preventive measures to eliminate the risk of contracting infections. The healthcare providers including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists can educate people by organizing camps in rural areas. Getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections can prevent the risk.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do you get gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection and it spreads through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex.


How is gonorrhea spread?

The bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae that cause gonorrhea can enter your body through unprotected sexual intercourse and can grow and infect moist body parts like urethra, cervix, vagina, eyes, throat, and eyes.


How to test for gonorrhea?

The two tests that are done to diagnose gonorrhea are urine test and swab test. The urine and the sample from the swab are tested for the presence of bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.


What does it feel like when you have gonorrhea?

Most people do not show any symptoms even after getting infected. But if you have symptoms, you might have burning or paining during urination, sore throat, frequent urination, and increased urge to urinate, and abdominal pain. In men, testicles become red and swollen and pus discharge from the penis can be seen. In women, it can cause spotting and pain during sex.


How long can you have gonorrhea without knowing?

50 % of woman and 10 % of men do not exhibit any gonorrhea symptoms for months or days. They might not even realize that they are infected. It is best to get tested for gonorrhea periodically.


Does gonorrhea make you tired?

If left untreated, later stages of gonorrhea can make you tired and fatigue.


Does gonorrhea affect the brain?

It is rare but in untreated and longstanding gonorrhea, the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream to the joints, heart, and brain.


What are the first symptoms of gonorrhea?

The early symptoms of gonorrhea are painful urination, pain during sex, abdominal or pelvic pain, swollen testicles, pain during passing stools, and increased vaginal secretion.


Does oral gonorrhea clear on its own?

Oral gonorrhea needs to be treated with antibiotics, as it will not clear on its own. You should avoid oral sex and kissing until you are treated.
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Dr. Yeshwanth Kumar
Dr. Yeshwanth Kumar



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